Northern Virginia 130-Mile Fiber Broadband

Chantilly to Culpeper, Virginia

GettyImages / ChrisVanLennepPhoto

KCI helped FiberLight, LLC, a leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure, bring broadband services to Northern Virginia. Through the construction of a new 130-mile network, which runs from Chantilly to Culpeper, FiberLight is enhancing fiber-optic connectivity for federal agencies and telecommunications customers throughout the region. Working with FiberLight from the network’s conception, KCI provided turnkey solutions to some of the project’s biggest challenges. An aggressive schedule required KCI to apply unique strategies to standard services, including surveying, permitting, design of the network’s alignment and easement acquisition. For instance, instead of providing ground-level surveys, the KCI team chose to fly over the project area. GPS, topography, and utilities data were then applied to the fly-over images to create accurate mapping of the proposed site, which was used to design a preliminary alignment of the network.

The large scale of the project presented multi-jurisdictional permitting challenges. Like many states, Virginia is divided into multiple counties and municipalities, each with its own regulations. In total, our team successfully navigated the permitting requirements of five counties, four municipalities, the National Park Service, Norfolk Southern Railroad and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The project’s largest undertaking, however, was easement acquisition along the 130-mile route. Unlike most states, Virginia does not own the right-of-way along many of its roadways; instead, homeowners’ property boundaries extend to the middle of the road. As a result, our team needed to acquire prescriptive easements—the legal right to use a specified section of property for a specific purpose—along more than 40 miles of the network’s proposed alignment. To avoid delays, KCI contacted property owners on both sides of the roadway to determine which side would be the easiest and most cost-effective to obtain easements.

Throughout the process, KCI’s senior facilities designer filled in the holes by spending his nights and weekends in the field, meeting and negotiating easements with property owners. At times, it was difficult to identify property owners, let alone convince them to sign an easement. Much of Northern Virginia remains very rural; thus, many of the jurisdictions retained property information in paper format at the time. With no computer databases to conduct their search, our team manually sorted through records to obtain property information for significant portions of the route. In some instances, we were able to identify property owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation the state didn’t even know it possessed.

FiberLight set aside ten percent of the overall project budget for the purchase of prescriptive easements. KCI has used less than one percent of that budget, resulting in significant savings for the client. Ultimately, KCI successfully negotiated and obtained easements from more than 500 property owners.